life of sundura 6
News

An upcoming microbiological videogame looks pretty chill

Existence is stressful. This is what the passage of time teaches us as we trade our carefree childhoods for a decision-ridden adult life. Modern life can fill us to the brim with anxiety. Our brains conspire against us, pumping our minds full of negative thoughts, paralyzing our bodies with indecision as we are asked to confront the long road of our lives and the individual choices that form the paving stones beneath our feet. Wow, that got a bit real there. But, hey, if ever you need a respite from the chaos of everyday life, return to the basics in…

No Place for Bravery
News

Is there enough room for another pixel-art RPG?

There’s a close-knit cloud of terms frequently cropping up in the discussion of action role-playing games lately. “Atmospheric,” “minimalist,” “roguelike,” “pixel art,” et cetera. Hyper Light Drifter established its appeal almost entirely on the back of these signifiers. Titan Souls did the same last year, and the upcoming Children of Morta is looking to bring in the same traffic too. But for every new (or, in this case, old) aesthetic enjoying the apex of popularity, there comes the inevitable point of exhaustion. Such as might become the case with No Place for Bravery. It is pitched along the lines of being a 2D roguelike action-RPG…

03
Review

Mother Russia Bleeds is a little groggy

VHS cassettes were the ideal vessel for horror. The seams between fiction and reality were somehow hazier, hidden behind scanlines and stretched tape, allowing my imagination to magnify the terror of Gremlins (1984) and the murderous doll in Child’s Play (1988). A film like Ringu (1998), in which those horrors literally came out of the TV to kill you, was inevitable. As VHS tapes warp and degrade they sully the story contained within, but also gain individual character. No two copies of the same film play exactly the same on VHS, especially as time lurches on. Eventually, the horror that…

The Rock and The Rock
News

Here’s a dating sim about The Rock falling in love with a boulder

“What the hell did I just play?” I pause the game after it’s finished and lean back in my chair, utterly confused. The Rock and The Rock promised five minutes of entertainment and it certainly delivered, although it’s taking longer to process what exactly took place. Created by Kevin Roark Jr., The Rock and The Rock is labeled as a small game/interactive film aimed at telling the story of the inevitable and natural attraction of two rocks. You’re given the option of switching back and forth between the perspective of former WWE wrestler and well-loved actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson,…

Branching Paths
News

New documentary hopes the “indie” game invasion of Japan is a good thing

One of the first things that Anne Ferrero says to me is that her new documentary isn’t “Indie Game: The Movie [2012] in Japan.” She tells me this as she’s aware that many people will assume that to be the case. But it’s not just a matter of a director looking to ensure that her potential audience isn’t misled: there’s a lot more to it. Much of it is summed up by one of Ferrero’s interview subjects in the documentary, Alexander De Giorgio, the chief organizer of Tokyo Indie Fest. “I think it’s dangerous to try and compare the Japanese indie…

Slain!
Review

Slain! is a disappointing death growl

Heavy metal is the musical and theatrical manifestation of mankind’s lizard brain. It’s an auditory siege that rifles through our ancient and violent nature that was once necessary to survive. This music transmutes those base emotions through myth, metaphor, and performance through modern instrumentation, impossible without electrical amplification. The costumes vary from latex to bullet belts, corpse paint to standard issue black, and on the stage the lights are kept low or flashing. Every note and image is calculated and well-rehearsed, because metal thrives in the extremes and requires complete attention to maintain the shared illusion for everyone at the…

BreakVVVVVVOut
News

What if all videogames were Breakout?

Pippin Barr is a stalwart example of a videogame scientist. He’s one of only a few who fit that title—people who constantly experiment with videogames, testing their boundaries, remixing their components, taking curious lines of thought to their furthest iteration. Take his latest as an example. Called Indie Bungle 2: Breakout Indies, it imagines for us the games that a “shitty cloning company” (specializing in clones of games to turn a profit and not, say, sheep or humans) would make had it only the technology to produce variations of Atari’s 1976 arcade classic Breakout. This idea didn’t come out of nowhere.…

Oxenfree_Review
Review

Oxenfree glows with teenage charm

The internet has been quietly buzzing about Oxenfree. Its status is held as the next über-cool opus of teenage ennui. But, for a second, forget all of that. Let’s just look at the damn thing. Oxenfree takes place on a small island in the Pacific Northwest; a tourist spot frequented after dark by local high-schoolers who go there to party. The scale and beauty of the place are often breathtaking, with hills and cliffs that rise high over the ocean, beaches that open onto uninterrupted sea, and giant caves that hide creepy illusions. Walking trails crisscross the island, taking Alex…

downwelllead
Article

The story behind Downwell, one of this year’s most delightful surprises

Downwell might be a perfect game title. Not only is it short and pithy, but it serves as a perfect summation for what developer Ojiro Fumoto has created. It’s a game in which a young boy is continuously falling down a well, avoiding enemies and purchasing upgrades along the way. But it’s not a hopeless endeavor. Armed with Gunboots firing from his feet, the boy is able to defend himself during his descent. The result is the type of sweat-inducing adventure that threatens to do water damage to your smartphone or controller, a game whose red and white character models…